Spiritual Teachers – One or Many

For those of you who are stuck, up against doubts or misconceptions, or are simply impatient, it may be helpful to consider a spiritual teacher (guru, spiritual master). While searching it is a good idea to be mindful of some of the things associated with teachers, such as the practices they teach, and when to stop shopping around and settle on one—this is an inner conflict that many people have, especially in the West where information is God and searching can lead to interminable shopping. Never settling on any one teacher can lead to “guru hopping” or becoming an “eclectic”, neither of which will ever lead to the depths so desperately sought.

And then there is the vast difference between seeking knowledge and seeking a teacher, which are often confused.

The Teacher

Where spiritual practices are concerned, it is best to have only one teacher. Otherwise there can be no way for any teacher to correctly guide you. Because you cannot reflect things specific to any one practice, misunderstandings and mistakes will be made. This is a huge disadvantage to youSo as a matter of getting good guidance, having only one teacher is vitally important.

Also, if a teacher is in possession of oral teachings that cannot be written but conveyed only orally to individuals at crucial points in their practice, that teacher will have to know that a student is committed and loyal to that teacher and that path before these teachings can be passed on. From the teacher’s point of view, this is critically important. This situation exists in all spiritual paths, whether it is known about or not by those outside these teachings.

So shop, but find your spiritual home before you discover that you have spent years digging shallow holes when by digging deeply, there is gold to be found in them there hills! Think of your teacher as your Sadhana Teacher, the teacher that is home for you, where you can come by appropriate guidance and make the quickest progress. Stick to the sadhana (spiritual practices) that teacher gives you, and to his or her teachings concerning that sadhana.

But most people are not engaged in sadhana 24/7, so what do you do between times? There are a number of things you can do that would be consistent with your sadhana, but the favorite in the West is knowledge.

Knowledge 

Practice and learning are different things. Many teachers have strict guidelines on what their students and disciples can read and do outside of their formal practices (sadhana). This is very common in yoga. My first teacher, who led me to Swami Kripalu, was one of these. She had a list. We were not to read anything not on this list. As a teacher, I feel differently about this.

I do not object to the study of the spiritual texts of other paths or religions. This can be very enlightening and, by providing different points of view, can actually lead to a better understanding of your own path. We are all unique and I believe our differences must be acknowledged and respected. I do not believe in trying to limit anyone. This would be in direct conflict with the essential nature of an individual possessing unlimited potential.

On the other hand, some students automatically resist reading or studying anything outside of their guru’s teachings or the teachings of the lineage. I think during the ‘honeymoon’ phase of one’s association with the Sadhana Teacher, this is a wise move. Get grounded first, using these teachings as a springboard for gaining the ability to understand the teachings of your own path, and then you can read and understand anything. But before you become grounded in your own path, moving through the teachings of one path after another can make you crazy with doubts, confusions, and a multitude of misunderstandings … and your own sadhana can get stuck in the confusing mud of multiple view-points.

SKY Haven

I don’t think there ever need be any conflict regarding the scriptures and commentaries of realized masters regardless of their path (if you don’t know if a text fits this criteria, ask your Sadhana Teacher). Most seeming contradictions are merely a lack of understanding that could be instrumental to deeper knowledge. This is usually the case where various religions, teaching lineages and spiritual paths diverge.

In any case, the kinds of restrictions on learning required by many teachers do not fit my ideals for SKY Haven. Nothing would please me more that to have the opportunity to sit with all of you in discussions generated by new insights gained from the study of various scriptures.

The beauty of surrender sadhana, which is primarily Surrender Meditation, is that it recognizes these differences we have as natural, and that they will all come together in the end anyway. 

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

P.S. I am putting my Life Mastery hat back on again. Please pay a visit to the website and see what’s going on: LifeMasterySelfCoaching.com

The Magic of Shaktipat, Part 1

Shaktipat is an initiation, the transmission of the spiritual power that ignites natural, spontaneous meditation and awakens kundalini.  

Shaktipat means ‘shakti-giving’, lighting one candle with another candle.  Shakti is like the ignition on your car. You may have a car with an ignition and lots of gas, but it’s not going anywhere until the key is turned in the ignition to start the car. Shaktipat is the turning of the key igniting the starter.

Once the ignition is switched on in your body, the life energy can get free. It will stay free only so long as you are not trying to control it yourself. In the surrendered state, this energy is not under the control of the mind and is at liberty to act on its own. This immediately or eventually leads to the natural and spontaneous awakening of the evolutionary force, kundalini.

Although shakti may in some cases be transmitted directly by the Divine, it is traditionally transmitted through someone who has been empowered to do so through a teaching lineage. This is because of the inevitable need, sooner or later, for guidance and information as one progresses. The initiator may be a spiritual teacher or someone the teacher has empowered to give initiation.

Shakti is transmitted by means of word, thought, touch or glance, and when received, accelerates spiritual growth and evolution automatically. In some instances however, shaktipat can occur days or weeks before or after an initiation by a spiritual teacher. For example, a fellow I once knew received shaktipat on the way to a teacher he had yet to meet. Only later did he realize what had happened to him. In another case, shaktipat was experienced weeks before the person even knew he would be finding his teacher. People who have experienced spontaneous shaktipat have, even if only for a moment, been in a state of surrender in order to have received it.

Shakti can be broadcast to many people at once or given directly to individuals. It can occur through initiation by a spiritual teacher, formally or informally, or directly from God, individually, in a group, privately or publicly. In the tradition of my own teaching lineage, direct shaktipat is given in the context of formal initiation into Sahaja Yoga, Surrender Meditation.

Once shaktipat has taken place, it remains for the recipient to know what to do with it. For this reason, shaktipat is associated with teaching lineages.  Books alone, or even the mind, cannot provide the necessary guidance.

When you surrender your body, your feelings, and your mind to God and get out of the way, your meditation is managed by God. What could be easier? What could be simpler? What could be more elegant?

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

… TO BE CONINUED …

Love,
Durga Ma
durgama.com

P.S. Looking at a post of one of my Followers, I found an excellent article on Kundalini. Have a look at Sohumm’s page on Kundalini Experiences, Part 1.

Go to the list of posts on KUNDALINI.

__||   Apply for Remote Shaktipat

__||   Living the Mysteries, the spiritual journey of Durga Ma. Available for Kindle or in hard copy at PhoenixMetaphysicalInstitute.com.

Shaktipat Prep

Shaktipat, along with its subsequent practice, sahaja yoga, was originally given to very few people. Through shaktipat, kundalini, the evolutionary force, could awaken naturally and one could attain yoga, ‘union with God.’

A teacher might have initiated only one or two students in a lifetime. Students desirous of shaktipat initiation would live at the teacher’s residence (ashram) for twelve years practicing selfless service to the teacher (guruseva), repetition of mantra, postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), proper diet, and so forth.

Before you gasp in horror at these requirements, keep in mind that masters of many arts and sciences in many cultures throughout the world also trained their students in this manner, and in many cases, still do.

After twelve years, if rapport with the teacher was sufficient, if devotion and determination was firm, and if the student’s karmic situation was conducive to it, he might be granted initiation. This trend continued for millennia for very good reasons.

The following are some of the qualifications for shaktipat initiation. I recommend that you use them as guidelines for maximizing your opportunity to get the most out of your spiritual practices, whether or not they are the practices of my lineage.

1    Have some sense of who you really are.
By “who,” I do not mean the popular concept of “who” as it is used today, which has to do with personality, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, what you do and how you do it, and so on. I mean who you REALLY are without all that packaging.

2    Have respect or devotion to the teacher who initiates you.
If you do not have respect for this person, and if you do not feel some degree of devotion to this person, he or she will be useless to you when you need them most as you progress to more advanced stages.

3    Set a limit on material possessions.
The purpose of this guideline is to help you to simplify your life in order to make room for your sadhana to bear fruit. Too many things creates too much distraction and steals time.

4    Read and reflect on scripture.
One who reads, studies and reflects on the written teachings of those who have successfully travelled the path, ups the ante a thousand times over one who does not.

5    Find something you feel you can surrender to — God, the Divine, Divine Love, Truth, Higher Power, the Absolute…
Do not try to do this sadhana by surrendering to yourself. This is counterproductive. In this meditation you will get the best results if you surrender to That which is Divine that is Other-Than-You.

6    Be willing to do at least one hour of sadhana a day.
This means an hour of actual sadhana, not including preparations, getting settled down, or any special opening and closing you might want to invent (it is a good idea to do this, by the way).

7    Be willing to do guruseva, selfless service for the teacher.
Do not believe for a moment that this is self-serving on the part of the teacher who initiates you. Guruseva is really for you. It burns up negative karma quickly, gets you out of the red and makes it possible for you to make faster progress. Guruseva also allows time for the teacher to continue his or her own sadhana, which is to your advantage.

8    Be willing to communicate with the person who initiates you about your sadhana.
A teacher who initiates a student will have a sense of responsibility for that student. If you do not communicate with this person, the teacher has no opportunity to contribute to your advancement, and you loosen the bond between yourself and the teacher. If you continue successfully on your own, you may reach a point when you will need this person’s guidance, but by losing your rapport with the teacher, this guidance will not likely be forthcoming.

9    Continue to reflect on and improve your application of yama and niyama.*

If everyone, regardless of spiritual orientation or the lack thereof, attended to these spiritual principles, we would certainly have a better, more peaceful world. But alas, not everyone will. This leaves it up to those of us who would, to do our best to do a good job.

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to God),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

* Yama and niyama: The yamas and niyamas consist of ten fundamental spiritual principles for attaining and maintaining success in spiritual development and in everyday life. See the New Moon elective course, Ten Keys to Success.

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